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Humpback whales migrate from the Cook Islands in the South Pacific.

The Great Whale Trail

Whales must not be allowed to die in the thousands for needless, discredited "research," and we're satellite tracking whales in the Southern Ocean to prove it.

The Great Whale Trail is a collaboration between Greenpeace and scientists working on humpback whales in the South Pacific.

With financial support from Greenpeace, humpback whales have been tagged by the Cook Islands Whale Research and Opération Cétacés (New Caledonia). 

The whales are now being tracked via satellite as they migrate from breeding and calving areas in the tropical South Pacific to the feeding grounds of the Southern Ocean.

Check out the early results

This project will produce important information on the movements and migratory destinations of humpback whales from small, unrecovered populations off Rarotonga (Cook Islands) and New Caledonia.

Greenpeace is communicating this critical non-lethal scientific research to the wider public as part of their campaign against Japan's unnecessary lethal "research" in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.

On their journey, the humpbacks, like hundreds of thousands of other whales, face a range of threats including ship strikes, entanglement in fishing gear, pollution and the impacts of climate change.

Every year, more than 300,000 whales and dolphins die just caught in nets. The one place you might think they would be safe is a whale sanctuary like the Southern Ocean. Not so. Once in Antarctic waters they face the threat most easily ended - whaling.

The Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary was meant to be a safe haven but every year the Fisheries Agency of Japan send a fleet of whaling ships to kill in the name of science. For the third year running they aim to hunt down almost 1,000 minke whales.

This year, they also plan to kill 50 threatened humpback whales and 50 endangered fin whales.

All of these whales will die for so-called 'scientific research' - but even the International Whaling Commission has labelled the "research" needless and urged the Japanese government to stop.

Why catching whales for science is a hoax

In reality, the "research" is commercial whaling in disguise - and the whale meat actually ends up in supermarket shelves in Japan, even though few people eat it anymore. Commercial whaling is banned under IWC rules.

In contrast, the Great Whale Trail project is contributing to real scientific efforts without killing whales.

The latest updates


Whales caught in Iceland

Image | 19 June, 2009 at 0:00

HVALFJORDUR-FJORD, ICELAND Whaling in Iceland. First fin whales brought to land on June 19, 2009. The boat, Hvalur 9, entering Hvalfjordur-fjord. The first fin whale to be cut was a female, 18 metres long.

Whale caught in Iceland

Image | 19 June, 2009 at 0:00

HVALFJORDUR-FJORD, ICELAND. Whaling in Iceland. First fin whales brought to land on June 19, 2009. The boat, Hvalur 9, entering Hvalfjordur-fjord. The first fin whale to be cut was a female, 18 metres long.

IWC61- vote distribution map

Publication | 18 June, 2009 at 15:04

Map showing Whale Conservation countries and Whaling proponents for IWC 61, June 2009, Madeira

Japan and IWC Membership

Publication | 18 June, 2009 at 13:13

Japan frequently threatens to leave the International Whaling Commission (IWC), and presumably would pursue whaling in the Southern Ocean, either on its own or under the authority of some new international organization. In fact, Japan has neither...

Japan and the Coastal Whaling trade off

Publication | 18 June, 2009 at 0:00

On 11 May 2009, the BBC revealed that, as part of what is billed as a peace process at the IWC, Japan had offered to reduce its 'scientific' catch of whales in Antarctic waters to 650 per year – just 29 less than it killed last season - in return...

The dangerous temptation of nuclear power

Blog entry by Justin | 12 June, 2009

The nuclear weapons tests that North Korea carried out two weeks ago, on May 25, reminded us once again that nuclear power technology remains the most dangerous technology mankind has ever created. With regional tensions rising, the...

Fact Sheet: The Whale Meat Market in Japan

Publication | 8 June, 2009 at 0:00

There's no market for whale meat in Japan - yet Iceland's whalers insist that importing whale meat to Japan is financially viable. This report demonstrates how this is wishful thinking on the part of Iceland's whalers, and includes incendiary...

Junichi Sato

Image | 18 March, 2009 at 0:00

Greenpeace Japan Whales Campaign Coordinator, Junichi Sato, presents a document on whale meat sales from the Fisheries Agency of Japan.

Outside the Japanese embassy in The Hague, Netherlands

Image | 23 February, 2009 at 11:30

Lady justice appeared holding a harpoon and scales outside the Japanese embassy in The Hague, Netherlands.

A call for justice at the Japanese Embassy, Mexico City

Image | 23 February, 2009 at 0:00

A colourfully painted call for justice outside the Japanese Embassy in Mexico City, Mexico.

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